Sunday, May 11, 2014

Santa Juana / What to Wear in Concepcion

This has been a busy week. Not only are more people coming into the Centro de Autosuficiencia because of our contacts with wards and stakes, we are developing training materials for the stake committees and specialists who will be taking over the functions of enrolling students age 18 and up into educational and employment workshops and registering them for Perpetual Education Fund loans.

I have been translating what I can find into Spanish and having it checked over by Elder K. and Hno. Seguel, and writing manuals  for what I can't find. We attended the training meeting for the leaders of the Andalien Stake, and the last Taller de Planificacion para el Exito--Planning for Success workshop--that will be handled through the Institute. We are preparing to teach the English For You Now course sent to us from Salt Lake to evaluate before it is sent to the full-time missionaries to teach in the field. We start in June, so I have created a blog site so members in the eight Concepcion stakes can register for it.

We made the 25 kilometer drive to Santa Juana last Sunday. It was a foggy drizzly day.

We saw some of the largest and nicest homes we've seen so far on either side of the highway, especially along the banks of the Bio-Bio River.

The highway to Santa Juana is known as the Ruta de Madera, since it is tree-lined and winds through empresas forestal, forest-related businesses. We actually came along this route a few weeks into our mission, back in November, but it was dark at the time, and I was too exhausted to notice anything.

Under the wisps of fog is a forest of young eucalyptus.

We came upon the village of Santa Juana, with its welcoming Bienvenido peasant with wooden oxen and cart. The address listed on the map site ended up being an empty lot, purchased by the church 20 years ago, waiting for enough Melchizedek Priesthood leaders so the chapel could be built. We fortunately had the phone numbers of the sister missionaries, so one of the hermanas guided us to the home that serves as chapel.

The church is a large red house on Calle Isabel Riquelme. 

We got there early, but as soon as the members arrived, we were warmly welcomed and enjoyed the Fast and Testimony Meeting and classes.

A baptism was announced for the following week, which will be held in the back yard pila bautismal, baptismal font.

Elder Kennington made the decision to share the long socks Vanessa sent us with these sweet sister missionaries. The Norte Americana from Idaho had a pair of black rubber boots she was wearing in the rain. We were told that the church had been about to close the branch in Santa Juana, when two sets of sister missionaries were sent here. They now have attendance of about 40 people every week. Following the meetings, these sisters invited us to visit a new convert, a blind sister who has had a difficult life, and who is raising three sons.

The drive back reminded us of western Oregon.

 Fall is coming to the trees lining the Bio-Bio River, which is very wide and shallow at this point.

And now for my wardrobe, which may be of interest to a sister missionary living 18 months in a coastal foreign country.I had to fit everything into two suitcases, so I found out as much as I could about what to wear before I came. In the picture above are my Travelsmith pocketed, button-down, a-line, mid-calf skirts. They are great. Hna. Butler in Ontario kindly loaned me several of her missionary skirts, too.

The Chileans tend to wear dark colors, with few prints or plaids, only occasionally a touch of brighter color. The younger women wear very tight leggings or denim jeans with high heels, and crochet or knit sweaters, with fitted jackets, hats, and scarves, even when the weather is still above 50 degrees. They have nice figures and maintain themselves into middle age. Since I am past middle age, fortunately, I have slid into the Older Woman category, and don't have to worry about high fashion. The church members, of course, dress modestly and tastefully.

Even after seven months living here, I still don't look like a Chilean, so they tell me. I don't know if it is lack of long black hair, the fair freckled skin, or the golden-brown eyes, which most people find as startling as blue eyes.

I ordered several shirts from different places and discovered they were Ex-Officio. They are well made, with beautiful fabrics and interesting details, if fairly expensive. They wash beautifully and will last through the mission.

Indestructible, easy-care and flattering dresses from Monterey Bay and J.Jill. There is a thriving industry in Chile of selling used and unsold clothing from the United States. Bales of clothing will arrive here to be sold to entrepreneurial women, usually working out of their homes. The quality and low cost make this clothing sought-after. Hna. Rosa told me that these clothes are used as a source of fabric for sewing, since Americans are taller and bigger and often the clothes do not fit.

My nice long warm Tribal skirts I bought at Peterson's missionary store in Boise. I also bought a white blouse and two shorter elastic-waist skirts for summer wear.

Long cardigans from Lands' End I couldn't live without. I just wish I had brought the mid-weight ones as well.

The Orvis P-Day shirt I wear with two alternating Territory Ahead jeans. I also have several vests. The scoop neck top (spandex stretch or cotton) can be found at the missionary store in the Provo MTC. I bought three of them--two white and one black. I wear them constantly under my shirts and sweaters.

A lightweight hooded raincoat from Orvis, and the gorgeous gray wool coat Elder Kennington bought me at the Pendleton outlet in Boise. I always get compliments on it. Not pictured are my winter pajamas I bought in Nancy, France, and the summer pjs I got at the Wal-Mart in Pahrump, Nevada. I found another in Jumbo Concepcion but had to get the XL (I think it was a girls size) since at 5´2" I am a giant among Chilenas.

A Land's End down rain jacket, and my beloved Fossil leather bag. It does not draw attention to itself, holds tons of stuff, has lots of zippers, and has a very sturdy long handle that I wear across my body, every day. 

Scarves are an essential here. Sometimes they are the only spot of color, and they are endlessly useful to put over your head to keep off rain,  keep your ankles warm when you are sitting, or insulate your groceries or keep things from breaking. The scarves above are  a letter-printed stripe I bought in Bad Salzuflen, Germany; a lovely lightweight wine-colored wool one from L.L. Bean; the yellow silk from Sendai, Japan; and the pink and purple shawl was a gift from my brother-in-law Jorge from Buenos Aires. 

Warm, soft angora sweaters from Orvis and L.L. Bean. What I didn't bring enough of was around-the-house clothes, so I've ventured into stores to find shirts and leggings. The fabrics here are not what they are in the U.S. , and most of them have to be ironed. Fortunately the clothes do fit me, even though at 5' 2" I am a Large size. Elder Kennington has found the XL for men is not large enough to fit him. We see large men around, so we know there must be some place they buy their clothes.

These are the shoes I have ended up wearing: The black Clarks I bought in Provo while we were in the MTC that I wear almost every day; (they have been re-soled twice at the Navarro shoe shop,)  the laced tan and black Clarks I wear on P-days; the brown Bass flats I bought at the Boise Outlet Mall; the Bass long zippered boots for when it rains or I want to wear wool socks to keep my feet warm; and the leather Teva sandals, the most comfortable of all. All of them comfortable, well-made, and looking like they will last awhile. I have a few more pairs of shoes, but will probably leave them with some deserving Sister missionary when my time here is done.

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